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Vintage Frame - Conversion to Internal DI2

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Vintage Frame - Conversion to Internal DI2

Old 01-26-15, 05:13 AM
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mwarddoc
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Vintage Frame - Conversion to Internal DI2

Have any of you taken a vintage lugged steel frame, from the 80's or so, stripped it down, cut off the braze fittings, and redone it with internal routing of brake cables and DI2?

Is it possible?

I know it is possible to remove everything, but the install I'm curious about.

Is there enough clearance at the bottom bracket for the cables and junction box to be inserted into the down tube?

Is it safe or does drilling the tubing dangerously weaken the tubes?

Along the chainstays I'm assuming would need to be externally routed cable for the derailleur in any case.

Thanks for any information.
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Old 01-26-15, 09:09 AM
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Andrew R Stewart 
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Can't answer the cable routing around the BB, suspect that will depend on the BB used. Classic loose balls cups with a tapered square spindle leave a lot of room to work with. A modern cartridge unit, like a UN-55, much less room. Also can't answer about the junction box. Perhaps a call to Shimano would get more advice.

But the removal of braze one and the drilling (with reinforcement rings, some use water bottle bosses for this) is pretty straight forward. I wouldn't be too worried about the ports weakening the tubes, after all frames have holes in them already. Again some reinforcement is a good thing to do. No reason that the rear der wire could be routed internal in the chain stays.

Or just wait for the wireless versions to come out. Likely won't be more then a year or three... Andy.
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Old 01-26-15, 12:16 PM
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wireless can't come early enough for me. I got some of the Di2 frame grommets to retrofit light wires, they are really nice. You probably are going to have to go with a seat tube battery. Not sure about the junction boxes, I started feeling really tired before I got too serious about a di2 retrofit.

There is some kind of sleeve that keeps the wires out of the crank axle. I suspect you can find it if you look
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Old 01-27-15, 01:45 AM
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Thanks for the information.

I'll slowly accumulate the stuff I need and start with the old "junk" frame I have, which is around 40-50 years old and still in riding condition, then see if a pawn shop nearby has a newer and still "junk" frame, and by then I should have located the frame that I want to do this to "for real".

Wireless...if I wait 2 more years I might be to old to do this...I'm already 2 years behind schedule as of April, but as I nearly went bankrupt the year after I turned 50 I'll settle for this year as the medical bills and business chaos just finally are settling down.
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Old 01-27-15, 09:22 AM
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Andrew R Stewart 
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Glad to hear that you're getting back on your feet. Good luck with your project and do report back as you make discoveries. Andy.
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Old 02-07-15, 03:30 AM
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Well, I researched this mightily, and read everything I could find.

It is possible to do. If well done it is probably safe, but that would require several other assumptions. First and foremost, that the primary frame structure is sound and no damage has been done to the frame over the years or with the primary brazing when the frame was assembled. Secondly, that these alterations, which introduce new stresses, would not additionally compromise a hidden yet harmless weakness, converting it to a dangerous one.

However, each frame comes with a lot of unknowns, this is particularly so with those that have been ridden, and even new designs can be a problem. Furthermore, steel and tubing has not been static, at any point, every maker was steadily making adjustments and each vendor was as well, not to mention the individual craftsmen. So, by example, the two frames I have from 1984, by same maker as my original 1984 bike, but different model and time of manufacture, may have just enough variability in structural uniqueness that what I might have gotten away with in one frame will fail on another in the same line.

I researched frame failures, and as I'm sure you all know, they occur where they would be expected in predictable locations of high stress or intersection of more flexible tubing with less flexible or inflexible lugs and castings.

Each time you alter that frame, and the idea that I had in mind would have involved 5 to 6 fenestrations being introduced to the tubes with brazing a fitting over that fenestration to reinforce it, you introduce additional stress points, additional rigidity, and potentially alter the overall frame mechanics in such a manner that the potential for frame failure rises in an unpredictable manner, not just in the area of the new fenestration and reinforcing brazing, but in the other areas of stress as well.

There are enough problems with new, unaltered, and standard set up frames having failures in these areas, that taking any frame and altering it further increases the risk of failure beyond the point of risk that I'm willing to take, particularly as I'm just over 200 pounds. Furthermore, if I find a good frame, I'm going to ride it and ride it hard at times, not just pedal around the bike trails at a casual rate. It was interesting to see some of the failures and who was riding them when they failed.

Failure on a hill climb, in traffic, is not a fine thing to contemplate, nor is a failure on a hard braking descent or an emergent stop. I've been lucky and only had one frame fail on me, it was a cheap department store 26" single speed, and I put on the coaster brake on a hill and the rear axle sheared off, it was so long ago that I tend to forget about it after 34 years. I've never had a chain break either. But I've had a foot come out many years ago, when I was young and very strong, while powering up a steep hill, and it was lucky it was the left foot and not my right, as it threw me clear off the road, I was totally focused on the pedal strokes and never imagined my foot would come out and that was the only time it did in years of riding hard. (Although I did give the bike to my brother when I got a new bike, told him he should have the bottom bracket checked and repacked, and the shop said the spindle was near failure...all I had to do was keep riding it a bit longer and it would have failed on me and I'd have been in a world of hurt).

I also researched frame failure in hard riding, and how the cyclist with the unexpected failure went down, and what I read encouraged me to just find an apparently good frame and build it up with external set of Ultegra non-DI2, which is what I did with my wife's old Trek 600 three years ago.

Then, one day, after more groupo advancements, have a custom steel frame made, or one of those Renovo bikes, when I get rich...

Thanks for all the feedback, it's useful just to see what people know. I'm off the the Seattle Bike Swap this weekend, and hopefully will find what I'm looking for.
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Old 02-07-15, 06:26 PM
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I think you've done a good job of summing up the worst case possibilities. Many of the classic brands weren't built that well. I'd feel a lot better about doing this to a newer frame, to be perfectly honest
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Old 03-13-15, 01:38 AM
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Its not an 80s steel lugged frame, but i did convert a 1997 Cannondale CAD3

I specifically chose this frame for two reasons

1) it has a few holes already pre drilled that i could utilize for internal wiring
2) i love cannondales

So having owned a few CAD frames before i already knew there would be holes where the DT shifter is, and at the RD cable guide. The only drilling i had to do was for the entry at the FD, and the BB

When i looked internally at the BB, i noticed there were already holes drilled through the BB leading into the chain stays and downtube. This made me a little more comfortable when it came to 'widening' the holes a little more to fit the 5mm cable through and the junction box in the downtube

I couldve used the seatube bidon bolts to run the cables through but decided id probably need that so drilled a 5mm hole near the FD mount

I also drilled a small hole in the seatpost where i installed the battery, again there was already a hole so i just widened it a little more. I then filed a small chanel in the seat clamp so the cables wouldnt be squashed when tightening the seat post

Here she is 1997 Cannondale CAD3 / Ultegra Di2 / SRAM S80








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Old 06-29-15, 11:38 PM
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Well, after much consideration, and a long drawn out process of convincing myself to actually use the frame that I have, which was a NOS Lotus Classique that my wife found for me two years ago, which I hated to change out of it's old setup as it was so nice, I had it rebuilt (I didn't have time so I had the bike shop at REI build it up and they did an excellent job). I had them carefully pack up the old equipment in case I ever want to rebuild the original and hang it on the wall.

I ended up using Dura Ace Mechanical groupo, 11-28 with a 50/34 compact crank, C24 tubeless wheels, Hutchinson Sector 28c tires, I've never had brifters before, and never had anything better than a 105 from 1992 (which was and still is pretty nice), but this was a big jump in quality.

It is absolutely great, only one exception, there always was a bit of shimmy/wobble in the front end if it was not weighted, and the build accentuates that, not sure if it is the tires or the wheels, everything else is the same other than the groupo. Bike weight dropped 3 pounds despite a heavier saddle and bars. Nothing dangerous, just interesting, but it was there before. I'm also riding it with only 75 PSI on the tubeless tires (rides like butter, shifts like butter, and chipseal is not even an issue).

BEFORE - DAMN NICE BIKE


REBUILT


FINISHED AND READY TO RIDE
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Old 07-05-15, 12:18 AM
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When I saw this thread, I did wonder why? But obviously there are reasons to do almost anything with some nostalgia, etc... And then I wondered what the technical issues would be. That the main concerns would be structural seemed a little overwrought to me.
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